Thursday, 1 September 2011

An Awfully Big Adventure...

I think he needs a name...

I’m waiting for the postman. With a bit of luck, he should be bringing me a few bits and pieces. A high-pressure mini-pump, some gel-padded gloves and, most importantly, some cycling trousers with a heavily padded arse.

Other recent purchases include a lock, new tyres, a wedge pack to carry my puncture repair kit, spanners and alan keys, a pair of lights and a cycling computer. My half-baked assault on Mt Ventoux has inspired me, and I’m going to make the move from a lap of the park once a week into proper cycling, in the hope of being able to go back to Mt Ventoux and do it properly: all the way to the top, all in one go.

Of course, I may already have bitten off more than I can chew.

When I abandoned my ride up the mountain, I had a very clear thought in my head - I’d come so far on no training or experience that it must be possible for me to reach the summit  if I went away and put the hours in. Almost as soon as I had this thought, I received a quick lesson in how much I needed to learn - the descent from 12k up Ventoux was terrifying, and I had absolutely no idea how to handle those speeds, those corners, those lumps in the road. Clearly, I needed to learn from those in the know.

With that in mind, I came home and contacted a friend in the CTC who immediately invited me to join her on one of their 2 Star rides which, she has assured me, will be well within the reach of a beginner. Which brings me to my recent acquisition of lights, tools and the like. I even have a dedicated support team in the shape of my wife, who has presented me with a selection of energy bars and a Liquigas jersey that she promises was “torn from the back of Ivan Basso”.

Which is all well and good, but I’m getting a little nervous. In preparation for Sunday’s ride, I cleaned several years' worth of gunge from my bike, tightened the brakes, oiled the chain, sprayed a little WD40 into the tubes and onto every bit of chipped enamel. The end result was a gleaming bike and a bad back. And a lightly-pulled thigh muscle. Seriously, basic bike maintenance has done me a mischief, so you can understand my newfound misgivings about taking on a 55-85k ride in three days time.

These misgivings deepened when the ride leader, who I’d contacted out of politeness, replied to suggest that he thinks I should start with a 1 Star ride.  Oh.

The thing is, I feel like I’m committed to this Sunday’s ride. I’ve made arrangements with a friend I haven’t seen for years. I’ve bought new kit. Hell, I’ve even lowered myself enough to add lights and locks to my previously smooth and uncluttered bike.

So here’s the plan. When the postman arrives I shall assemble the final bits of kit, put a few drops of embrocation on my sore thigh, and head out to the nearest park, where I shall endeavour to ride at a respectable speed for as long as I possibly can. Or until the live coverage of the Vuelta starts, whichever comes first. By the end of that, I should have the first inklings of what I can manage, and of what I’m in for on Sunday.

Here goes....

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